CHAPTER 1

Mapping a Course into Markets

Dragons Indeed

Early modern European navigators and captains put ships and men out onto intercontinental expanses that were for them largely a separate planet. They pushed off into oceans armed only with early compasses, closely-held logbooks, and portolan charts of soundings and headings gleaned from perhaps 3,500 years of riverine and littoral punting, these punctuated only by chancy passages in single-masted galleys and cogs across inland waters like the Mediterranean, the Baltic, or the Black Sea.

In thrall to flawed Ptolemaic geography and astronomy, they puzzled at every new turn, trying to conform to this received, erroneous tradition, the conflicting facts they found.

Men like Columbus and Hudson, ...

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